They call it the sweet science, but boxing can also be a brutal sport that usually leaves winner and foe alike bruised and bloody. The beauty in boxing, though, is found in the increased stamina, endurance and cardio you get from training. If you don't relish the thought of suffering the pain and humiliation of taking a punch, non-contact boxing is just as beneficial.
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Full Body Workout
Boxing engages muscles from all over your body. From your trapezius to your deltoids, your biceps, triceps, shoulders, abs, chest and back, you essentially recruit all your upper body muscles to throw punches, duck and dodge. Your legs get in on the act, too, carrying you around the ring and assisting in evading your opponent, whether real or imagined. Your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes work together to help you lunge in and out, and add power to your punches. The power you generate for any punch starts down below and drives upward from your calves in a kinetic chain. Strong calves help you bob and weave around the ring.
Effective Cardio Workout
Throwing punches and dancing around a boxing ring expends significant energy, making boxing an effective sport for getting a cardio workout. A University of Cape Town Medical School study published on PubMed.gov found that students spent the same amount of energy in one 60 minute boxing training session as if they had run almost 6 miles. A different study done at A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona backs up the positive findings, concluding that 30 minutes of non-contact boxing performed with a Nintendo Wii provides moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise and can contribute to daily physical activity.
Training for Endurance and Stamina
It's possible to build up George Foreman-like fortitude even if you never intend on going up against an opponent. "Muscle and Fitness" recommends High Intensity Interval Training-style workouts with a heavy bag for helping you increase stamina and endurance. Work on the heavy bag, punching and jabbing for three minutes at a time, taking one minute to dance around the bag as rest in between punching intervals. Start out with a goal of going three rounds, just like any amateur boxer, and work up to being able to last 12 three-minute rounds, the same as a regulation boxing match.
Super Stress Reliever
Sure, boxing is a physical activity that can help you get in shape, but it has psychological benefits, too. In their 2013 book "Boxing Fitness," Clinton McKenzie and Hilary Lissenden outline how hitting the heavy bag and focusing on punch and jab combinations provide an outlet for frustration, anxiety and aggression. McKenzie and Lissenden also point out how technical elements such as working with the speed ball and skipping help develop discipline and concentration, other aspects that can help relieve the mind of stress.